Andrew Witmer: Class of 1994

Witmer as a senior at FA

Andrew Witmer was salutatorian of his class, a National Merit Scholar finalist, the vice president of the National Honor Society, a member of the Scott Hi-Q academic quiz team, a First Place winner at the Maine State Science Fair, and a recipient of the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship. He also participated in a year-long gifted and talented writing program and in many music ensembles, musicals, and plays.

Andrew graduated summa cum laude from Taylor University in 1998 with a B.A. in History and Philosophy. He has since earned an M.A. (2002) and Ph.D. (2008) in History from the University of Virginia and has completed Postdoctoral Fellowships at UVA (Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Humanities Forum). He has worked in journalism, including a job with “All Things Considered” at National Public Radio, and has been an Assistant Professor of History at James Madison University since the summer of 2010, specializing in 19th-century U.S. history. Andrew’s scholarly publications include five articles or book chapters, four encyclopedia entries, and numerous book reviews, and he is currently completing a book manuscript based on his dissertation.

How did your time at FA contribute to your success later in life?

“I loved being a student at FA, and a big part of the reason was the faculty and staff. So many of them found their own way to sharpen my thinking or enrich my imagination. I remember doing a census of trees in the woods behind the school, falling under the spell of Greek mythology and Shakespeare, floating a homemade boat down the Piscataquis River, visiting Augusta for a class on American politics, playing Benny Southstreet in a production of Guys and Dolls, discovering that Roman poetry could be hilarious, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Broadway on a band trip, and making my own baseball bat on a lathe. When I look back on all of this, especially now that I’m a teacher myself, I marvel at the energy and creativity that went into offering these and many other opportunities for learning and exploration. It’s truly extraordinary, and I can so easily trace the lasting results in my life. My teachers at FA prepared me extremely well for the intellectual challenges of college and graduate school. They also showed that learning can be fun and even exhilarating. I experienced great kindness from janitors, librarians, coaches, administrators, and teachers. I’m now trying to pass along similar values to my own students and children.”

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